Sunk Cost, and Other Barriers to Change

Clients hire coaches to help them change the way they do things. Then those same clients often turn around and fight their coaches, seemingly at every step of the way. What gives? Experienced coaches, especially those who were once therapists, know that such resistance is simply part of the change process. While you may be frustrated at times by a client’s seeming stubbornness, it helps to know that resistance to change is normal, and that working through that resistance will be necessary for eventual change to last. Why is resistance normal? Think about it. If the asked-for changes are to occur, your clients will have to give up something that has worked for them. Initially it had value, or seemed to, or they would not have adopted it. So, there will be some grieving to be done, and some disentanglement. Be patient. It isn’t a reflection on you. Resistance takes…

Don’t Rush It

Here is the last of my seven secrets for bringing a successful EQ coaching program to your client organizations: Help decision makers understand what is realistically required so that you can deliver the results they’ve hired you to deliver. Make sure they understand that sustainable behavior change takes time. Give it time. Behavior change is hard. Behavior develops over time as the result of experiments we all perform to discover what works. Once we think we’ve nailed it, we hate to give up what we’ve learned. The behavior of leaders in your client organizations has evolved in the same way that the rest of ours has. We have all been learning how to relate to the world since the day we were born. We asked for things before we even had the words to do so (maybe by smiling and being charming and adorable, maybe by crying and making a…

Don’t just change outward behavior

Last time we talked about making sure you provide the right tools to your clients in order to facilitate real behavior change. Today we’ll go beyond behavior change, because behavior change alone is not enough. Let’s talk about secret number six: Change thoughts and feelings, not just behavior. Ironically, behavior change programs that focus only on behavior usually fail. Change efforts must include attention to the building blocks of behavior — the way we think about a situation and our emotional response to it.  Emotions, thoughts, and behaviors are interdependent. To get a sustainable change in one, you must change the others. For example, leaders who believe that people are fundamentally lazy are likely to feel annoyed with them, which will come out in those leaders’ behavior — the way they look, speak, and respond to people. Alternatively, leaders who believe that people are fundamentally motivated to perform will probably…

Provide the Right Tools

We’ve talked about four secrets to a successful EQ development program. To review, you have to prepare the ground, participation has to be voluntary so that people are engaged, privacy must be guaranteed, and you have to tackle issues that mean something to your client and the organization. Today let’s talk about the fifth secret: Provide the right learning tools. Changing deeply ingrained behavior is tricky business. Just telling someone who isn’t assertive to be more assertive isn’t helpful. What is helpful is having the tools needed to make it happen. One tool is access to expertise in behavior change, and that’s where you come in. Such expertise is useful in providing leaders with guided practice in EQ skills in the real world, and feedback and support when the going gets rough. Experienced coaches will know how to respond to setbacks, and to ask challenging but motivating questions — and…

Make it mean something in real life

We’ve been talking about the seven secrets for bringing a successful EQ program to your client organization. Thus far we’ve talked about preparing the ground, making it voluntary, and keeping it private. Now let’s discuss the fourth secret: Tackle meaningful issues. The issues that your program will address must be meaningful to both the participants and the organization, not just the flavor of the day. For example, sometimes a boss goes to a workshop on empathy and loves it, and then everybody has to go to empathy school. That is a bad idea, for the following reasons: Not everyone may need empathy training. Providing empathy training to leaders already skilled in empathy is a waste of time and money. There is also an opportunity cost for those people who are already OK where empathy is concerned. Maybe they are good at empathy, but not so good at impulse control. They…